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Ahead of the Paris Air Show this year, members of the Gripen User Group met up in Paris on 20 June to add Brazil as the newest member of the group.

The Gripen User Group is made up of representatives of countries that operate the Gripen fighter. Before Brazil, the last induction in the group was that of Thailand in 2010. The Gripen Users Group holds a biannual conference to share the participants’ experiences of flying the fighter. The Group shares information, and the discussions revolve around Gripen’s operational, maintenance, logistics, engineering and safety matters.

The User Group also conducts ‘Lion Effort’ - a tactical exercise aimed to improve interoperability between the Gripen operating countries. Hungary will host Lion Effort in 2018. 

Read the full story here.

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Saab is focusing on developing the next generation of its RBS15 anti-ship missile for its domestic customer’s Gripen fighter and Visby class corvette, reports Monch.com.

According to Michael Hoglund, Head of Marketing and Sales for Missile Systems at Saab, the missiles need to be developed before the Gripen E fighters are introduced to the Swedish Air Force.

“The driving force for the timing of this is the Gripen E,” he says.

Saab received the order for the anti-ship missiles in March 2017. As per the contract, the missiles will be developed in both air-launched and ship-launched configurations.

Read the full story here.

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“Gripen fighters will be operational from day one of delivery to the Brazilian Air Force (FAB),” Brigadier General Marcio Bruno Bonotto, commander of the FAB's procurement command (COPAC), said.

Brigadier Bonotto was speaking during a briefing on Gripen exports at Saab’s aeronautics division in Linkoping. He said that the first Gripen fighters delivered to the FAB in 2021 will be “operational aircraft and there will not be any 'Independence Day' aeroplanes that are just for parades".

Brigadier Bonotto added that FAB is also considering a number of other programs for future which will run in parallel to the Gripen programme.

At the LAAD International Defence & Security Exhibition this year, Saab had presented the latest developments in the Gripen NG programme for Brazil.

"Major advances are happening in the Gripen programme for Brazil. The first aircraft to be delivered to the Brazilian Air Force is already under production at Saab’s facilities in Linköping, Sweden," said Mikael Franzén, head of Business Unit Gripen Brazil, Saab business area Aeronautics.

Read the full story here.

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“Model Based Development for Gripen E will allow tactical functions to be uploaded into the system in a span of days instead of years,” Combitech's CEO Lars Ydreskog said at an event in Linköping earlier this year.

The concept is similar to a smartphone structure wherein, just like apps, subsystems can be easily added or removed. Gripen E's avionics system has separate flight critical functions and tactical features which means the operator can add a new capability or feature without interfering with any flight critical functions.

With model based development, the number of system failures can be reduced by 90 percent and the errors can be rectified in days and not months. Another advantage of this system is that the verifications can be done in simulators which reduce the need for extensive test flights.

“It hereby ends the discussion if model-based development works or not,” Ydreskog said.

Read the full story here.

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Developing a fighter for less than 2 billion Euros is made possible by a number of factors and strategic decisions taken at the programme’s beginning. Finding less expensive ways to develop advanced products, which Saab describes as 'breaking the cost curve’, is one, reports Defence Aerospace.

Strategies like buying a new engine (GE F414G) or ES-05 Raven AESA radar, and not developing these systems from a scratch – which can be an expensive process - have played an important role as well. But integrating these systems into Gripen E without spending a lot on integration cost was not easy.

According to Jerker Ahlqvist, Head of the Gripen programme, this was solved by adopting new ways of working, including model-based systems engineering (MBSE), model-based development (MBD), and agility. This is to say that the company’s simplified management structure was prepared to react quickly and adapt to change.

The report also mentioned two other factors that helped minimize cost. Saab allows engineers to take decisions without the interference of upper management or committees, which results in a faster development process.

The second factor, which in different guises is on the lips of every executive, is the sense that the company has a duty not only to develop the combat systems needed by the Swedish military but to develop them at a price the country can afford, the report says.

Read the full story here.

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A full- scale replica of Gripen E adorns the entrance of the Gripen Design and Development Network (GDDN) in Gavião Peixoto, in the state of São Paulo. Inside, Brazilian and Swedish engineers work together on various 'work projects' under the Gripen NG development programme.

"The idea is that the Brazilian version of Gripen will eventually be manufactured here," says Jonas Petzén, Site and Development Manager at GDDN. “Meanwhile Saab and Embraer will together oversee the development of a two-seater version of Gripen."

The work has already begun on various 'work packages'. These cover the design of the cockpit, including new displays, rigs and simulators, pneumatic systems and ejection systems, overall design and avionics - all of which form the basic infrastructure for other work packages.

"The working climate is extremely creative and is a clear example of a situation where one plus one makes more than two," Petzén says.

According to Petzén, over the next few years, the focus of Saab's cooperation with Embraer and other partners in Brazil will be on development. "The simulator for the air force pilots will come online in 2017, and a manufacturing facility will gradually be built," he says.

One of the Swedish engineers, Johan Beckman who has moved to Brazil to work at GDDN, says things have got off to a great start. “It’s going really well and this is mainly due to the fact that our Brazilian colleagues spent a year in Linkoping. They know how Saab ...

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In an interview with Defesaaereanaval.com, Bengt Janér, Director of the Gripen Brazil project at Saab, talks about the latest update on the Gripen programme, technology transfer and the role of Brazilian companies in the fighter development.

About the technology transfer process, Bengt says that it started in October 2015. About 150 Brazilian engineers are currently participating in the training program at the Gripen plant in Sweden. In total, there will be over 60 projects under the technology transfer programme, lasting up to 24 months.

Bengt adds that Brazilian company Akaer plays a very important role in the fighter’s development. Akaer’s involvement in the Gripen programme started in 2009. During the first phase, it did a preliminary study of the rear fuselage and parts of central fuselage, wings and main landing gear door. Starting 2012, Akaer was responsible for the complete development of the rear fuselage. After 2014, the company started working on optimisation and detailing of the gun unit and central fuselage of the fighter.

Brazilian engineers who were in Sweden for training, are now working at the Gripen Design and Development Network (GDDN) in Gavião Peixoto, in the state of São Paulo, and at AEL and Akaer, companies that Saab has industrial cooperation agreement with.

On being asked about the status of the development process of various Gripen versions, Bengt added that Gripen E’s first test flight would take place in the second quarter of 2017 as planned and Saab is looking forward ...

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Captain Ivo Kardoš from the 211th Tactical Squadron at Čáslav Air base won the award for the best flying demonstration by an overseas participant at RIAT 2017. The performance was judged to be a "consistently well flown and accurate fast jet demonstration" during the airshow.

"It was a wonderful, amazing airshow," says Kardoš. "It was the best one I've ever been to. Of course, it's a great honour to win the prize and to represent Gripen and Saab." 

RIAT is one of the largest military airshows in the world. Held at RAF Fairford in Gloucestshoire every year, the airshow gets a participation of fast jets, giant transporters, historic aircraft etc. from around the world.

RIAT 2017 was held between 14 and 17 July.

Several of Saab’s larger deals include long-term industrial cooperations with customer countries. The goal is to create good value for both parties.

Many countries around the world have formal requirements and regulations in place which relate to industrial cooperation. 

“Even countries that don’t have such formal requirements often want Saab to contribute to their industrial development,” says Anders Edlund, Director at Saab Industrial Cooperation. “In some cases, it involves increasing exports, in others, it is purely a matter of security – they want to be able to maintain and upgrade the system they have purchased from us.” 

The most recent major business deal is Brazil’s purchase of 36 Gripen aircraft. The contract stipulates a number of requirements for industrial cooperation, including the training of Brazilian engineers and workshop personnel. By the end of 2024, more than 350 individuals from the Brazilian Air Force and Saab’s business partners will have taken part in training courses in Linköping, Sweden. 

The contract also includes a new hub for technology development and flight tests, which was inaugurated at the end of 2016. A local production facility will be built, and the assembly process at the site is set to begin in the early 2020s. In addition, various research projects are being conducted jointly with the Brazilian Air Force. 

Analysis before agreement

When making such an extensive commitment, Saab undertakes a comprehensive analysis of the country concerned before considering entering into an agreement.

“You have to understand ...

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The low building in an industrial area in Arboga reveals nothing about the high level of technical interaction between Swedish and Brazilian engineers that goes on inside. For seven months, Marcelo Tonial and his two colleagues from AEL Sistemas are spending their days developing the knowledge on how to build and optimize the resources required to maintain the avionics units on Gripen. They are there to acquire the knowledge required to set up a workshop in Brazil for maintaining 36 Gripen fighters ordered for the Brazilian Air Force. “Going to Sweden for the technology transfer process was something I really wanted to be involved in,” says Tonial, who has temporarily left his position at the Research and Development department at AEL Sistemas to lead the Brazilian team in Sweden.

Marcelo Tonial and his colleagues are only three of nearly 350 professionals from Saab's Brazilian partner companies and the Brazilian Air Force that are involved in the Transfer of Technology (ToT), the industrial cooperation and technical exchange programme between the two countries that began in October 2015 and will last until 2024. The aim is to provide the Brazilian aerospace industry with the technology and knowledge needed to develop, assemble and maintain Gripen in Brazil.

In the technology transfer program, the sharing of knowledge goes two ways. AEL Sistemas develops and manufactures technological solutions for defence and security in air and on land and has developed the electronic display for the Gripen aircraft in Brazil.

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